How To Trademark Something

By David Carnes

A trademark is a mark, symbol or combination of words that distinctively identifies a product or service -- McDonald's Golden Arches, for example. Trademarks have economic value because they represent the business reputation of the products they represent or the company with which they are identified. Registration of your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allows you to obtain nationwide protection, sue in federal courts and qualify for international protection.

Step 1

Select a non-generic trademark. Generic trademarks are unacceptable. For example, "Apple Computers" is a non-generic phrase, but "Apple Apples" is generic.

Step 2

Search the Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS, on the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to determine if your proposed trademark is identical or deceptively similar to another registered trademark. If it is, change your trademark enough to make it distinctive. To register a logo, search the Design Search Code Manual on the USPTO website to find codes that identify your design, then use these codes to search for similar designs.

Protect your brand. Register My Trademark Now

Step 3

Draft a description of the goods or services that your trademark will protect. This description should be about a paragraph long and must be included with your trademark application.

Step 4

Classify your product by obtaining a code from the USPTO's Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual on the USPTO website. For example, your product may be classified as anything from adhesive bandages to blouses. A code will be attached to each classification, and you must use this code in your trademark application.

Step 5

Create a jpeg file attachment bearing the image of your trademark. If your trademark includes both wording and a design element, you must create digital representations for each.

Step 6

Complete the online trademark application using the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Application System, or TEAS, on the USPTO website, including the description you drafted, your product identification code and your digital representation. Supply your name and the name of your business, as well as identification, contact and biographical information.

Step 7

Pay the required filing fee online by credit or debit card.

Step 8

Renew your trademark registration between the fifth and sixth year after registration, between the ninth and 10th year, and every 10 years after that. To maintain your registration, you must continue to use your trademark in commerce -- or have an acceptable reason for non-use, complete a renewal application and pay a filing fee.

Protect your brand. Register My Trademark Now
How to Apply for a Trademark


Related articles

Expiration of Trademark Registration & Abandonment

A trademark is a combination of words or symbols that identifies and distinguishes a product or service of an individual or company. Commercial use automatically creates common-law trademark rights that last as long as the mark remains in commercial use. You can also register and maintain a trademark with your state or with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Federal registration and maintenance is more expensive, but it provides a public record of the trademark claim and the ability to sue in federal court to protect your rights. You must periodically renew and monitor your claim to prevent expiration or abandonment.

How to Protect an Artwork Trademark

You worked tirelessly to create your original artwork, now you must consider the business side of your art -- creating a brand. Brand your art with a trademark, a unique identifier that separates you and your artwork from other artists and their work. In the U.S., you get trademark rights by use in commerce, not registration. However, trademark registration has several legal advantages, including exclusive rights of use and the right to sue.

How to Obtain a Trademark for a Food Recipe

You may register a trademark only for the name of your recipe or the name of the food your recipe is describing. Although trademark protection does not extend to the contents of your recipe, registering a trademark to protect the name of your concoction can prevent others from capitalizing on your market recognition. In order to protect the actual method of preparing your recipe, and any creative expression involved in your recipe, you will need to consider trade secret protection, patent law and copyright law.

File a Trademark Online. LegalZoom. Learn More.

Related articles

How to Trademark a Shirt Design

If you plan on making some money with a unique shirt design that you’ve created, protecting it with a trademark is ...

How to Trademark a Shape

A trademark is phrase, symbol or design element that identifies the brand of a product or service. Unlike a copyright ...

How to Trademark a Catchphrase

A catchphrase is a slogan or tagline that identifies a person, group or business. Often introduced into pop culture by ...

How to Trademark a Clothing Label

A clothing label builds its reputation based on its name, logo and designs. The clothing label must choose a name that ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED